1 of 2


fessed; fessing; fesses

intransitive verb

: to own up : confess
usually used with up


2 of 2


variants or less commonly fesse
: a broad horizontal bar across the middle of a heraldic field
: the center point of an armorial escutcheon

Examples of fess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
So c’mon, Alec, fess up, what did Bryce tell you? Dan Gelston, ajc, 2 Nov. 2022 So c'mon, Alec, fess up, what did Bryce tell you? CBS News, 1 Nov. 2022 What happens when restaurants don’t fess up? Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 24 June 2020 Okay, fess up: who made a hole in Mars? Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 21 July 2012 Measurement must, at times, suffice as a substitute for understanding, but measurers must fess up to this fudging up-front—as did the inimitable Richard Feynman. WIRED, 9 Feb. 2023 Before taking any action make certain to honestly fess up to your advisers about what your real concerns are. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 6 Feb. 2023
In its latest issue, the Economistreviews recent research showing just how frequently innocent people 'fess up, and what factors lead them to do it. Valerie Ross, Discover Magazine, 12 Aug. 2011 Instead of trying to take the easy way out, straighten your spine, fess up and do the right thing. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, 1 June 2020 Not until after the game -- LSU beat South Carolina 6-4 to stay alive in the SEC Tournament -- did Peterson fess up. Christopher Dabe, NOLA.com, 25 May 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fess.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



short for confess


Middle English fesse, from Anglo-French faisse band, from Latin fascia — more at fascia

First Known Use


1840, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fess was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near fess

Cite this Entry

“Fess.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fess. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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